Public works agency hit for disregard of trees, historical sites

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The Philippines’ Department of Public Works and Highways is facing criticisms for having bulldozed thousands of trees and disregarded a historical site in planning and implementing its road projects. Thousands of trees have already been cut in the provinces of Pangasinan, Laguna, Sorsogon, Baguio, and Cebu to meet the requirement for national primary roads to have at least 4 lanes or at least 15 meters in width. For this, the Office of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr issued a memo in 2012 giving DPWH blanket approval to cut trees in 8 regions. In a recent forum, environmental and urban planning specialists showed DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson that it is possible to widen roads without cutting the trees. Earlier, Singson took notice of protests, this time from historical preservation advocates, that a road-widening project in Sariaya, Quezon, that threatened to “ruin the patio of a church, municipal hall, park, and ancestral houses that give the town a unique character.” He told regional DPWH offices to strictly follow a 1991 department order to coordinate closely with historical preservation and cultural agencies in planning infrastructure projects.

Read about the DPWH chief’s reminder about historical sites here.

The full story on the multi-sectoral dialogue on the cutting of trees in favor of road projects is here.

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